Review of “Biblical Economics: A Common Sense Guide to Our Daily Bread”

8219auwnBiblical Economics is a must read for any Christian. In this book, Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr. has declared that the Bible is emphatic about a particular view of economics. The author argues that Biblical economics is beneficial to all of society. Its primary intention is not to bury the poor in a sea of debt, but to give the poor an opportunity to reap the benefits of mass production. R.C. does not treat the Bible as a textbook for every single economic decision we will make, but he does see it as useful for understanding economic issues. Christians are called to build a “social order that reflects the glory of God.” This is only possible in a society where citizens are both productive and aware of God’s law-word.

The book avoids radical approaches to economics; for instance,  radical materialism and radical spiritualism. In avoiding the isms, exploring the Biblical view of economics can turn into a God-honoring exercise. Filled with an optimism of God’s work of redeeming this world, R.C. writes that: “Redemption, in the full biblical sense of the word, is both physical and spiritual.” This Kuyperian dynamic is found throughout the book. The world according to God is  created as “very good.” The fall cannot hold back what God has intended to accomplish through Christ, and that is the restoration of civilization under King Jesus.

But what does a society look like under biblical economics?

Nations prosper because profit leads to surplus capital and that leads to tools and that leads to production. When this pattern is seen “the common man is allowed to have luxuries once owned only by nobles.” Beyond that, the “poor reaps the benefits of mass production.”  The Puritan work ethic is at the center of this biblical understanding of economics. It is this reviewer’s opinion that America still reaps the benefits of our forefather’s commitment to working ethically as Christian citizens in the land.

Modern Christians are afraid of the idea of profit. They believe that it does harm to the little guy, but in reality profit gives the possibility for the little guy to build wealth. Government’s role in welfarism has only led to catastrophic decline. The government seeks to regulate what the Bible gives no authority to regulate. Wealth and welfare are responsibilities of the family and the church. When the bureaucratic agencies interfere in businesses it only hinders progress.

Sproul spends much time articulating on the real culprit of inflation: The government through the fiat printing of money. This book, written over a decade ago, is even more pertinent today in light of the gangster-type mentality of the present Federal Reserve banking system. The more the Federal Reserve goes on denying the real source of this economic recession, the longer it will take to recover.

The final chapters of the book focus on a biblical definition of poverty. All Christians speak of poverty, but rarely do they define it. Poverty is not an absolute term; there are different kinds of poverty. In this section, Sproul responds to   those on the Christian left and their absolutizing of poverty.

What is the role of government in our economy? What does the Bible say about equity, debt, capitalism and socialism? Though the Bible does not speak in particular about every detail, its principles are clearly laid out throughout redemptive history. R.C. Sproul make understanding this difficult topic a possible quest for the layman and scholar alike.

Possible Objections

Some may immediately criticize R.C. for treating the Bible as a textbook. My answer is that if a textbook means offering principles for living in such a time as this, then that is a fair criticism. I am well aware that Israel lived in an agrarian system and most of us do not in this day and age. However, it is within that agrarian system that God offered principles and wisdom to be applied in all of life and in every society.

Some may react by saying that capitalism is greedy and full of faults. To that I respond, what system honors labor more than capitalism? What system honors the family more than capitalism? What system allows the passing of wealth to future generations than capitalism? What system allows the gospel to prosper to the nations of the earth more than capitalism? What system made America the most prosperous nation on earth? What system has most been associated with Christianity throughout history than capitalism? As Luther has said: “The abuse of something is not an argument against its proper use.”

Some may object that the Bible is only a spiritual book and not meant to address fleshly concerns. The only answer I can give is to take the critic to the heart of redemptive history. Our history is God’s history, which He created as very good.

Personal Note

My interview with Dr. R.C. Sproul on his book can be found HERE.

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